Plymouth … Britain’s Ocean City; the culmination of Route 5 and beginning of Route 6, let’s make a stop and discover this maritime city’s eclectic mix of waterside watering holes, harbourside hang outs, bustling shopping centres plus surrounding suburbs. It’s quite a large city, so I’ll do my best to tantalise your taste buds with a snapshot of what’s on offer, serving my suggestions over two courses.
We’ll start just outside the city as we think it’s worth the small detour for something special.
A short detour
Fancy frequenting an ‘enchanted place on the hill’? Well the word ‘Boringdon’ means just that. Boringdon Hall Hotel and Spa is a luxury 5-star manor house hotel with an award-winning spa and 3 AA rosette dining. Aside from the 42 sumptuous rooms and suites there are various hot and cold spa facilities to awaken and relax your senses, your taste buds can be equally awakened by two dining experiences.
The Mayflower Brasserie is a contemporary eatery within this historical building, offering a range of seasonal options for every occasion from dawn until dusk. If you’re after something quite exquisite then book your seat for a 9-course tasting journey at the hotel’s pièce de résistance – Àclèaf. Be seated aloft the Great Hall and experience “A showcase of inventive British fare” with optional wine flights, including dedicated vegetarian and vegan tasting menus.
Back into town
As you head into the city, there are many options for your taste and budget. Let’s start with making the most of what’s available in Plymouth… the sea!
Pop your sea legs on and all aboard one of Plymouth Boat Trips Fish ‘N’ Trips outings. A 3 ½ Hour mackerel and sea fishing with all equipment provided and you keep what you catch. If you’d rather someone else cook it for you, you can add on Cook Your Catch at The Boathouse where “You catch it, they’ll cook it for you”.
Prefer ‘catching’ your seafood on dry land, then head to Rockfish’s newest addition to the shoal. Not just the normal Rockfish restaurant, in Plymouth they have made use of their takeaway building and created a sardine bar. They’ll reel you in with the bright primary colours which encompass an outdoor seated area overlooking the harbour and where you can enjoy their sustainable British tinned seafood, fish and chips, crab and more. They serve everything gluten free suitable for coeliacs, have a kids menu and dogs are welcome too.
With fish still on the menu, but a bit further inland, Kuku Sushi Bar and Robata is the place to go to for the sushi variety. Kuku offers a cool and relaxed vibe, with cocktails and contemporary Japanese cuisine including sushi, sashimi and carpaccio, soups, salads plus meaty options cooked on their traditional Japanese BBQ robata grill. It’s perfectly placed for visits to the Theatre Royal, the main shopping centres and nearby Barbican.
Leaving Japan behind and heading to South East Asia in less than a few miles, Suphas Street Food Emporium promises to ‘bring you the real taste of street food from Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia’ using seasonal produce including seafood freshly delivered from neighbouring fish supplier Moby Nicks. Dine indoors or alfresco at their bright and colourful space which has great views across the water. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options aplenty, escape with dishes from pad thai to bang bang soft shell crab. Opt for click and collect for a takeaway treat
Vegan with a twist
Prefer to devour plants? Then head to Cosmic Kitchen for ‘good mood food’. All their menus are 100% plant-based and they have a fully vegan bar. Owned by twin sisters, they offer delicious meals inspired by their Cypriot heritage. Think Jackfruit gyros wraps, cosmic scotch ‘egg’ and even a reuben toastie containing pastrami style seitan.
Time to quench your thirst? If wine is your choice to whet your whistle, then Honky Tonk Wine Library will be right up your street. A wine haven where, not only can you try many wines by the glass, everything on the wine list is available to take home. Paired with their sharing platters of deli delights, this vino venue offers something a little different.
Is gin your thing? You can take your pick from well-known Plymouth Gin Distillery or newer distillers on the beverage block, Barbican Botanics, both located on the cobbles of The Barbican only minutes apart.
Plymouth Gin Distillery is the oldest working distillery in England and has been making Plymouth Gin according to the original recipe since 1793. Gin lovers can choose from a variety of tours which include learning the history and sipping some tasters, to distilling and making your own flavour combination. You can even enjoy some gin at the top of Smeatons Tower, an 18th century lighthouse overlooking Plymouth Sound. If you just fancy a well-crafted cocktail or G&T made for you, in historic surroundings, then head to their Grade II listed Refectory Cocktail Bar.
Barbican Botanics offers gin, rum and whisky tastings along with gin masterclasses too. You can take yourself back in time and sit in their Gin Room, a 17th century lounge area known to feel as though you are “sitting in someone’s living room”. With a medieval garden, it’s the perfect place to sip in the sunshine or hunker down by a heated booth in the colder months.
I’ll let you have a breather to digest all that and that’s just for starters! I’ll see you for the main course soon, in part 2.